Optimum gave Eskom ultimatum to meet its demands, Koko tells Zondo

Former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko said that Optimum was demanding a price increase and for its R2 billion penalties to be scrapped.

A screengrab of former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko testifying at the state capture commission on 3 December 2020. Picture: SABC Digital News/YouTube

JOHANNESBURG - Former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko said that he eventually decided to invoke a clause that allowed the power utility to acquire the mining rights of Optimum Coal Mine because the mine attempted blackmail and extortion.

He said that Optimum doubled its proposed coal price increase from R285 per tonne in April 2014 up to R513 by August 2015.

Koko was back at the state capture commission on Wednesday where he testified about a series of events that led to Glencore losing ownership of the mine, which was taken over by the Gupta-owned Tegeta.

Matshela Koko said that Optimum was demanding a price increase and for its R2 billion penalties to be scrapped.

He said that the mine gave Eskom an ultimatum to meet its demands, otherwise, it would go into business rescue.

Koko said that he proposed a take over of the mining rights as per the agreement with the mine but the mine rushed to business rescue and that automatically suspended the agreement.

"The only reason I think he did that is because he knew that we would step in to exercise our right in terms of the coal supplier agreement to take over the rights but once it's suspended, we can't and
that's why I say in my email to Mr Molefe we can't, based on the advice."

Koko said that contrary to what had been reported and the findings of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, executives and the board of the power utility were willing to increase prices but the mine acted in bad faith.

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